Maui News

Hawaiians Waiting for Homestead Award Add One Off-Island Board Seat

September 5, 2021, 8:46 AM HST
* Updated September 5, 8:47 AM
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Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands added an off-island board seat to represent Hawaiians on waitlist for a land award but living on the mainland or in Alaska. Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

At its last regular board meeting, the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands added one board seat to represent the interests of Hawaiians living on the US continent.  

The number of board seats dedicated to off-island leaders will increase from one to two seats. The board now will be nine members, with seven seats dedicated to Oʻahu, Kaua’i, Maui/Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Hawai’i island Mokupuni regions. 

Founded in 2008, the Association of Hawaiians for Homestead Lands is registered with the US Department of Interior to represent the interests of more than 28,000 Hawaiians waiting for the State of Hawai’i to issue a land award, promised to eligible Hawaiians since 1920. 

“Our AHHL board deliberated and adopted additional board seats, especially for our people living on the US continent and Alaska,” said Mike Kahikina, AHHL board chairman.  “Kainoa Macdonald, on the waitlist from Maui living in Texas, is doing a great job on our board, and we recognize the need for additional board members to represent the growing population of our people living and waiting for their land award, away from home.” 

Vanessa Garcia Phillips, AHHL vice chairwoman, said: “A nine-member board, with two dedicated to the continent and Alaska is prudent. We are adjusting to the reality that we have a growing membership of waitlist Hawaiians in so many different States across the country by adding an extra seat.” 

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In addition, the AHHL board joined an initiative in partnership with the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations to establish a sophisticated member enrollment technology system to make sure AHHL members can vote in SCHHA governance elections that occur every four years.  

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SCHHA is a homestead governance entity dedicated to Hawaiians defined in the federal Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, wherein Congress directed land awards to Hawaiians, similar to Indian Allotments for American Indians and Alaska Natives.   

“We appreciate the recognition of our AHHL board that our people living away need to have a voice at our waitlist association governance table,” said Macdonald, an AHHL officer.  “Also, the work to establish a more modern enrollment database to make sure our waitlist families can participate in elections and homestead business of the SCHHA is also greatly needed.” 

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